Sunday, 20 February 2011

Quote of the Week

“They never performed an exam–he asked me how I was feeling today and I said I’m from California and I’m not used to the cold, so he handed me a note.”

-- Christian Hartsock.

Christian was at the Madison rally yesterday in Wisconsin.  The note given to Christian?  It's good from the 16th through the 25th.  And no....there was no exam.  So if you just say you aren't used to cold weather...that's enough in Wisconsin to get off-time from work.

Some Advice

To be honest....I've been at a total of three demonstrations in my entire life....and they were kinda by accident or as an observer.

I watched the video from Madison, Wisconsin, and I've gone through the fifty odd pictures that have been posted across the internet of the demonstrations.  Then I sat and pondered upon what I saw.

Frankly, there needs to be a training camp or classroom environment set up to train folks on how to demonstrate.  If you go into a demonstration, and your message or sign is stupid.....folks take note of that and you lose points.  In the case here....the sign conveys Sarah Palin is running around and shooting dogs, which MSNBC has yet to report (they've reported her shooting bears and small varmints but not dogs).  So folks read the sign and kinda associate your participation as a joke.

Then we come to the Hitler folks.  For most of you who relentlessly keep bringing up Hitler and the Nazis.....it worked in the 1940s and 1950s....but time has passed and to be honest....it doesn't sell anymore.  If you asked a dozen kids around age fifteen....most can't even associate Hitler with Germany, and three of them might say that Hitler came from Texas originally.

Even if you thought Hitler-mania would work....you need to just Hitler's face and not some other joker from Milwaukee or Madison.

The stupid slogan business?  Well....if it sounds stupid when you say it ten times....it probably is stupid.  And folks see this on TV....talk to the neighbor, and they all have a laugh.  You didn't accomplish much of anything.

Then we come to the kids that you have out and participating in the demonstration with you.  If the kid is under fifteen....you can bet that he or she is mostly miserable and begging to leave after 60 minutes.  It may look great for the camera but most folks shake their head because Johnny barely knows the multiplication tables and you've got him jabbering away about pensions and unfairness.

Conversations with reporters?  If you do a bit of weed before coming out to the demonstration and start acting dopey....stay away from the reporters.  If they ask a funny question and you are all pepped up on some 4-star weed.....then you say some silly stuff and everyone has a laugh.  Again, your message isn't selling...it's just sinking.  Dump the weed for the day and try to act straight and coherent when the MSNBC reporter comes around to you.

Using signs with profanity?  Don't worry...MSNBC will not use your sign in any report....neither will ABC, CBS, NBC, or CNN.  Oh, but don't worry....Fox News will use it and you look like some dimwit with twelve key phrases that all start with "F**k" at the beginning of each.  Your message tends to sink because the profanity wasn't necessary.

Clobbering or taking on anti-protesters?  Oh please....is that the best that you can do?  Is it necessary to show how potentially violent that you can be?  Tripping up a Tea Party guy makes you look superior?  Ripping up a anti-demonstration sign in front of cameras makes you look strong?  Your message sinks fast in a situation like this.

Finally, your friends, neighbors and boss watch episodes like this on the twenty-four a day news channels. If you look stupid....don't you think that Grandma will call you tonight and ask if you were doped up when at the parade?  If you say some extremely controversial things....don't you think the boss will remember these?  If your neighbor listens to your lightning-strike commentary and identifies you as a nut.....that ID won't go away for years.

So, if there ever was a case to have a training camp, this demonstration in Madison probably showed that to be true.  Just some humble advice from a guy who just watches and observes things....and not much of a radical on anything.

My Neighborhood

Occasionally, I will share a moment from the DC region with you.  DC is like some third-world banana republic....where anything can happen.  The topic today?  A SUV.

Elections came last year, and a new DC city council chief was elected....Kwame R. Brown.  On the rank game....the mayor out-ranks this guy but that's not important in this case.

A couple of weeks passed after the election (early November) and the incoming guy (Kwame) let the city government know that he wanted a vehicle of special signficance.  Even though the city of Washington DC is $400 million in the hole....he wanted a special vehicle for his transportation around the district.  It had to be a 2011 Lincoln Navigtor L series....extended wheelbase....fully-loaded...."black on black" in color.

The city went out and procured a Navigator of such....but then it came to be realized that it had a gray interior....so it didn't meet the "black on black" color requirement.  Naturally, the city was stupid enough to accept the first vehicle....and they can't get out of this lease.  Nothing much is said about what happened to vehicle number one....which is the odd part of this story.

So onward, the procurement folks marched....toward this very special vehicle.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the L-model....it includes a 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, power moon-roof, navigation system, a full-up DVD entertainment system in the back with eight-inch screens and a 600-watt sound system.  For ninety-nine percent of us....it's not exactly the kind of vehicle that we dream of....but this is Washington, and things are different here.

Around early December...some local leasing agent toward the procurement folks that she'd found the ONLY such vehicle available within six states (yes, things have become that critical).  The cost?  $1,769 a month....but sadly, it didn't have the rear entertainment system, and the interior was "stone" (not black on black).  The procurement guys accepted this vehicle.

Kwame?  He came to view the vehicle and said "no".  He just couldn't be seen in public with a stone-colored interior.  It had to be black-on-black.  This vehicle was signed for....so the city got stuck with a vehicle that it didn't need.

Luckily, someone went beyond six states, and found this one of a kind vehicle sitting in Kansas City.  Yes, it is a bit away, but in the business of making Kwame.....Kansas City means nothing in terms of distance.

So they talked on and on.....then someone in Mississippi found one at a dealership in Coldwater, Michigan.  My guess is that the Mississippi guy does big leases and was willing to pay the extra cost to get the one from Michigan.  The cost now?  $1,963 a month.

It was black on black....or so they told the District procurement guys, and somehow....someone would drive this vehicle over from Michigan to meet the end of December deadline date that someone had invented at the beginning of this mess.  You will note....no one asked for pictures.

So the vehicle arrives in DC around 29 December.  Funny thing.  It had a two-tone interior and it was charcoal black with tan seats.

Yep, the Mississippi dealer and the Michigan guy had rigged up this entire lease....figuring they'd force DC to accept something they didn't want....at a higher price.  The DC guys went into a panic.  They tried calling both the Michigan guy and the Mississippi guy.  Neither answered their phone for some odd reason.

The District guys finally decide to show Kwame the vehicle, and he ends up coming back and saying he's happy with this choice.

Man-hours involved?  Probably over two hundred man-hours from the District procurement office.  The guy in Mississippi?  He's smiling because he screwed up a deal and still got his money.  The District?  Happy because Kwame is happy.  The budget?  Well....over two years...they will spend around $48k for this leased vehicle.  It'll be turned back to the dealer in Mississippi and I'm guessing he's got a dozen guys lined up to buy Kwame's vehicle when it finally comes back.

Don't worry....by 2013, we will likely repeat this entire episode again as Kwame wants to replace his two year old "hood-car".  So if you see Kwame around the District....just wave....if you can see him through the shaded glass.  And for you folks wondering how the District survives with its budget issues....don't worry.  We got Kwame.

Finger-Licking Good Gone?

It's not to be something that will appear much in the US news.....but the key phrase of Kentucky Fried Chicken...."Finger-licking Good" is about to disappear overseas and might disappear here in the US.

The chief executive of KFC for the UK and Ireland is dumping the phrase.  He says it's food-centric (whatever that means), and they need to communicate the positiveness in a better fashion.

I sat there when I read this in the London Telegraph....thinking this was a bit odd.  They put the comment in the business as well....which was even more odd.

I grew up with the phrase....finger-licking good.  When you stopped at KFC....it was a four-star chicken meal and nothing less.  I'm puzzled by this monumental change.  Food-centric?  What's this supposed to mean?  KFC doesn't sell tampons, cigars, or flashlights.

I'm guessing there is some third-world group that finger-licking good probably offends.  I don't know the group and I'd rather not waste time guessing on which nationality has a problem with finger-licking.

So in the future....as you stop by KFC.....and you notice 'finger-licking good' signs are gone....you will shake your head and enjoy the chicken.  Things change in life...except for the Colonel's secret recipe.  We can only hope it doesn't change.

The Only Winners

As this mess has unfolded in Wisconsin over the past week....I've come to mostly amused.  It is a comic opera of sorts.

From Friday and Saturday....a twist occurred.....with doctors appearing in the crowd of protesters (mostly teachers) and handing out excused medical letters.  Basically, it's a form letter and says that the doctor has examined the patient and given them that work day (or the next work day)....off.

Typically, you have to show up at doctor's office and have an actual exam.....and maybe in half the cases....the doctor will sign something to suggest that you should be excused.  Flu, fever or cramping are enough to do this.

In serving twenty-two years with the Air Force.....I was able to get a grand total of two excuses (for three days total) off.  It wasn't exactly easy to get such excuses while in the military.  When I retired....we got no sick leave as a contractor.....so you didn't ever ask for such excuses (they were worthless).  Over the past year as a actual government worker....I have yet to have any excuse necessary (in some ways, I should thank God for decent health).

The problem with these dimwit doctors in Wisconsin at the rallys.....is that they were videotaped handing out the excuses.  There was no exam.  The doctors were signing one after another.  No fee was collected (I'm guessing his or her hospital will be curious about how these were paid for).

A number of folks now have these excuses and will use them in the coming week.  I suspect someone will approach the state medical board and request an investigation.  The last thing that a medical board would want to do....is get into political affairs....but they would be required to open a case.  I would speculate that they will call the doctor in and they will ask a dozen questions.

Discipline in this matter?  The board might just give a verbal warning and get off the hook.  Some folks might take the amusing step of moving to a court environment and challenging each single case where the excuses were presented.

In the end....a bunch of lawyers will be involved and charge fees to the state or to the teachers or to the doctors....to clear up the mess.  The lawyers are the only winners when something like this occurs.

Today?  Well....its a fresh day and I would speculate more fun and amusement in Wisconsin.  What we need....is a fantastic three-foot blizzard to dump enough snow to keep folks at home.  But I kinda doubt we'd be that lucky.